Cleveland Comedy Festival Preview

(Sunday Paper, Volume I, Issue 25)

As many of you know, for the past few weeks I've been really excited about performing in the Cleveland Comedy Festival.

And then Wednesday morning I woke up with very little excitement about anything.

Wednesday was a pretty down day.

Thursday was a little better.

But I'm not sure I would have felt up to performing comedy either of those days.

I was planning on giving you an overall comedy update heading into the Cleveland Comedy Festival anyway this week...and the timing probably couldn't be better.

I guess we'll start with this: In my most down moment on Wednesday I spent a lot of time thinking about performing and kept coming to the conclusion, "What's the point?"

And then, when I cleared my head a little bit I thought about the fact that on Tuesday night while we waited for the results to come in Kathy and I caught up on some sitcoms we had on the DVR. On Wednesday afternoon the thing that took my mind off everything was an episode of Bob's Burgers. It made me laugh.

And that's when I got the point.

For many years my job was to talk to kids about this type of situation that even adults had a hard time wrapping their heads around. If we're being honest: I don't know that I would have done a very good job of that on Wednesday morning.

But you know what I will be good at? Telling jokes and providing a distraction for people who need one...for whatever reason.

And I get to start doing that at the Cleveland Comedy Festival this week. So that's a pretty good transition into the overall comedy update:

I'll be entirely honest with you folks: I think I'm pretty good at this stand-up comedy thing. (I know I still have a ways to go though. There are certain comedians I watch and I'm just in awe of what they do. I'll name one local guy: Sean Sullivan. Maybe we'll consider this this week's What I've Been Enjoying: I've been watching him a lot lately. He just recorded an album, so our paths have crossed more often since he's been trying out a lot of new material. Watching him work is incredible for me, and part of me is in awe of how good he is, even just practicing, and part of me is angry because I don't know that I'll ever get to that level of good. So that's where I'm at when I compare myself to the best. And if you have a chance to see Sean somewhere, definitely do it.)

OK, so back to me. I think I'm pretty good. But there are a lot of pretty good comedians in the area. So it can be hard to set yourself apart. And sometimes, to audiences that don't know anything about you, credits matter. For example, I've been on shows with people who have been on TV. That's instant credibility to an audience: the comedian gets introduced as having performed on late night television and they're ready to laugh at that person. For someone like me, it's hit or miss...sometimes I draw the audience in immediately and they laugh right away, sometimes it takes them a bit to warm up. Part of that is because I'm being introduced like everyone else - 'this next guy is funny'...some such introduction like that. At least having a festival credit ("This next guy performed in the Cleveland Comedy Festival...") sets me apart a little bit.

So I'm glad to have the Cleveland Comedy Festival as a credit. I think it can also help me get into other festivals. I've been rejected from a few...and it's hard to know if they just didn't like my tape or didn't think I had the right experience. At least the next time I apply to something I can say I was in a festival.

So this week is important to me. What do I expect to get out of it? Well, I'm in three shows - one on Wednesday night, one on Thursday, and on Friday is my contest preliminary. The top 3 (out of 12, I think?) in the prelim advance to Saturday's final. If I'm a finalist, that's gravy. I'm not really expecting that, though I am going to perform my best set Friday night and definitely try to advance. My main goals are to make connections, get a feel for how a different city in a different part of the country responds to my material, and try to do a lot of writing. (Both comedy and otherwise - I've already locked down one writing assignment for while I'm in Cleveland, and I hope to be able to get other work done...but I will have a lot of downtime and I'm not responsible for any family stuff for a few days, so I need to take advantage of that work-wise.)

For those of you who don't know my history (here's a link to what I wrote almost four months ago in my last comedy update), in January I will have been performing comedy for two-and-a-half years. I feel good about what I've accomplished in that time. I am probably right on the mark for the timing of getting my first festival under my belt. Hopefully more will follow in 2017. If you had told me I'd be performing in the Cleveland Comedy Festival after a little more than two years, I think I would have signed up for that.

It probably comes as no surprise to those of you who know me and my obsession with statistics of all sorts that I keep careful track of my stand-up performances. I have had a very good year...and it's not even over yet. 

My goal in 2017 is to blow this year out of the water and do even more. 


*If you're local and you're in town Thanksgiving weekend there's a show at the British Beer Company on Route 9 in Framingham on the Friday night after Thanksgiving. I'll be doing a spot in that show - more details to come as that gets closer...and it's pretty wild how close Thanksgiving actually is. I guess the more details will either be in next week's Sunday Paper or just on Facebook.

*And if you happen to be in Cleveland this week, holy cow let's get together and you should come out to one of my shows. I already know of one person who just happens to be in town...which is why I'm a big believer in 'hey - why not throw this out there - you never know'. So here I am, throwing this out there. 

*Speaking of Cleveland, I was hoping to be able to squeeze in a sporting event. Both the Cavaliers and the Browns are home while I'm in town, but the Cavs are on Friday, when I'm performing, and the Browns are on Sunday when I'm leaving. Oh well. I'm not as obsessed with visiting basketball arenas or football stadiums like I am with baseball parks but I still don't like being in a city when games are happening and not being able to check them out. 

*Besides my determination to keep people laughing and provide a distraction from the real world through comedy I've made a promise to myself to be a more active political participant in the future...both for candidates I believe in and the people and causes that I think will be most negatively affected by the government over at least the next two, if not four, years...and possibly beyond that depending on how much damage is done. I've never been one to talk or write about these things all that much - I don't know if that will change in the future. But I do know that I need to actually do more. Feel free to let me know if you know of any great organizations I should be thinking about (the ACLU is the first one I thought of) or if you want to take some action with me. I know I need to do better next time around.